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August 18, 2000
Experts for caution on talks with Hizb
Several prominent personalities, including jurist Rajinder Sachar, have welcomed the Centre's initiative of holding talks with the Kashmiri militant group Hizbul Mujahideen for restoring peace in the valley, but called for exercising caution.
Journalist Khushwant Singh, pointing to the lack of will [on the government's part] for solving the problem, said the only requirement was the will to deal with the problem. ''We really need only the will to deal with the problem [of Jammu and Kashmir],'' he said.
In a survey conducted by Usha Dutta, a social worker and secretary of the Indo-Russian Women's Association, on prevention of terrorism in Kashmir, Sachar said the exercise of negotiations with the Hizb must continue, but with caution. Pakistan should also prove its bonafides by stopping terrorists from operating on its soil. But by sabotaging talks between the Centre and Hizb, Islamabad had revealed its hostile intentions.
Opposing the government's move to introduce the Prevention of Terrorism Bill, 2000, Sachar said that apart from many undesirable features, it retained the provisions of keeping secret the identity of a witness -- a provision similar to that in the Terrorist And Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act.
''That provision was castigated by all five judges of the constitution bench.''
He said it was an irony that while the government was holding talks with the Hizb in Kashmir and the NSCN in Nagaland, it wanted to pass the POT bill, which apparently meant to control activities of these very organisations.
He demanded withdrawal of the legislation and said that solving terrorism required greater political tact, a strong security mechanism and strategy.
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